As I ponder this great Memorial Day our nation rightfully celebrates, I am humbled by the sacrifices made for all of us to enjoy relative safety and peace. The preservation of a set of ideals that seems to be under constant attack, from abroad, and surprisingly even at home. Only a few will ever know the effort and commitment necessary to keep the standards of freedom alive. May God bless every family who has lost a loved one to a cause greater than themselves.
I’ve walked on most of the continents of this earth. I have seen man’s moral inconsistencies, selfless sacrifice and the full range of human emotion. Some things, the most important things in life, are cross-cultural. They translate because we are all human regardless of culture or nationality. We are all made in the image of God. With all of the needs of this world, one of the things we need the most are our heroes.
I have been honored to meet several men who truly qualify as American Heroes. Each one has demonstrated courage, honor, and integrity under circumstances where most people might consider running away. There is something about undaunted courage in the face of insurmountable odds that makes us all observe with admiration the sacrifice of the selfless.
I was once asked to lead singing at the Leoma Church of Christ. Lora and I had just moved there to begin our education at International Bible College which is now Heritage Christian University. I declined due to my poor skills of song leading I had developed over the years and to this day I still struggle to be a song leader. I am one who feels appreciative of the wording in scripture which explains we are to make a “joyful noise.” As I sat and relished the beautiful tones of a 500 member audience on this Sunday afternoon singing, there came a pause between leaders. It was my assumption that someone had forgotten their place in the list of song leaders since there were at least 50 or more that day. I began to notice a friend slowly moving toward the front of auditorium struggling to fight the symptoms of multiple sclerosis in order to get the opportunity to lead a song for the Lord. As he began his key was off, his timing was wrong, and he could barely hold the song book. The audience reacted by singing the most harmonious and celebrated song of the day. They didn’t care as much about the actual mechanics of the song leader as they did about praising God and supporting a brother who had to labor so hard to do what many feel is a pretty fundamental task. I was both proud and shamed in the same moment. As I witnessed the efforts of this wonderful brother, I realized I had given up a great opportunity for the sake of something as base as my own pride. While I had some soul searching to do with my own self, I had nothing but the greatest respect for my heroic brother. I learned a great lesson that day. I will be ever grateful for the sermon he preached to me.
I have done many things in support of the constitutional ideals of our nation. I would never claim hero status, but I have put my life on the line on numerous occasions. I have served with some of the greatest military men this country has produced. My heart and thoughts are always for those who have returned from standing on the front lines defending us, as well as those who will never return. They are all heroes to me and I will always see them as such despite their personal protests of that acclamation. But be sure that heroes are found at other places than battlefields. They can be found in the fearful soul who relishes praising God above their own prideful abilities. They struggle to preach and deliver sermons to audiences who can sometimes see them facing their fears, or not. They struggle to read scripture when others would decline because they feel the power is in the message not the messenger. They pray publicly out of real reverence for God and concern for His people, not the shallow demonstration of practiced eloquence. They give of their resources privately, preferring no one ever know their identity or the value of the gift. I’ll take these efforts every time over prideful exhibitions, and superficial righteousness.
My heroes are those who place their pride and dignity on the line for everyone else’s betterment. Those who will work to do what others with more talent will decline for fear of embarrassment or personal loss. I love my brethren. The men and women who labor to exhibit the lessons Jesus has taught them in a world that is less than supportive. Christians live for their Savior, not their selves. Today my thanks go to those who give that greatest sacrifice for my salvation, whether physical or spiritual. I love them all. Most of all I thank God for instilling within us the capacity to live beyond our own mirrors and to recognize the greatest hero of all men – Jesus.